Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Galatians 5:19

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,
New American Standard Version

Adam Clarke Commentary

Now the works of the flesh are manifest - By flesh we are to understand the evil and fallen state of the soul, no longer under the guidance of God's Spirit and right reason, but under the animal passions; and they are even rendered more irregular and turbulent by the influence of sin; so that man is in a worse state than the brute: and so all-commanding is this evil nature that it leads men into all kinds of crimes; and among them the following, which are manifest - known to all, and most prevalent; and, though these are most solemnly forbidden by your law, the observance of its ordinances gives no power to overcome them, and provides no pardon for the guilt and condemnation produced by them.

Adultery - Μοιχεια· Illicit connection with a married person. This word is wanting in this place in the best MSS., versions, and fathers; the next term often comprehending both.

Fornication - Πορνεια· Illicit connection between single or unmarried persons; yet often signifying adultery also.

Uncleanness - Ακαθαπσια· Whatever is opposite to purity; probably meaning here, as in Romans 1:24; 2 Corinthians 12:21, unnatural practices; sodomy, bestiality.

Lasciviousness - Ασελγεια· Whatever is contrary to chastity; all lewdness.

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These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Galatians 5:19". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Now the works of the flesh - What the flesh, or what corrupt and unrenewed human nature produces.

Are manifest - Plain, well-known. The world is full of illustrations of what corrupt human nature produces, and as to the existence and nature of those works, no one can be ignorant. It is evident here that the word σὰρξ sarx“flesh,” is used to denote corrupt human nature, and not merely the body; since many of the vices here enumerated are the passions of the mind or the soul, rather than of the body. Such are “wrath,” “strife,” “heresies,” “envyings,” etc., which cannot be said to have their seat in the body. If the word, therefore, is used to denote human nature, the passage furnishes a sad commentary on its tendency, and on the character of man. It is closely parallel to the declaration of the Saviour in Matthew 15:19. Of the nature of most of these sins, or works of the flesh, it is unnecessary to offer any comment. They are not so rare as not to be well known, and the meaning of the words requires little exposition. In regard to the existence of these vices as the result of human nature, the notes at Romans 1 may be examined; or a single glance at the history of the past, or at the present condition of the pagan and a large part of the Christian world, would furnish an ample and a painful demonstration.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Galatians 5:19". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Galatians 5:19; Galatians 5:21

Now the works of the flesh are manifest.

The works of the flesh our own

It is the same with all the passions and appetites. No one of them ever leaves a man, who indulges them, just where he was before. No one of them is a mere dry, isolated fact, that drops into his record and stops there. If a bank-clerk steals his employer’s money, we do not put our funds in his hands, as if that were a simple fact, and he the same as before. If a woman loses her purity by a single act, no sensible man seeks her in marriage, on any theory that he can afford to condone the fall. Such is the nature of the soul that it lives in its own issues, or dies in its own empoisoned evil deeds. They are all our works--ours only. God has no part in them; good angels have no part in them; yea, that thing in us, which is truest self, the conscience, resists and struggles against them. As the eye weeps and inflames at the irritation of a grain of sand, so the conscience resists and inflames before the works of the flesh--before “adultery, fornication, uncleanness, and such like.” I do not wonder at the despair, the black despair, which, like a dark night in winter of clouds and sleet and chill, settles down on such souls as are victims to bodily lusts, namely, hatred, envyings, murders, drunkenness, and such like; and men hear the howling of fiends, and see lurid lights, and moan of a hell of fears, horrible to think of, as yawning before them. These things are the inheritance of their election. (C. H. Hall, D. D.)

The works of the flesh

I. What is flesh? It is taken for--

1. The whole man (Genesis 6:3).

2. The mortal body (2 Corinthians 7:1; Galatians 2:20).

3. The ceremonies of the law (Galatians 3:3; Galatians 6:12; Philippians 3:3), because performed by the body.

4. The human nature of Christ (Romans 1:3; 1 Peter 3:18; 1 Peter 4:1) as spirit for the Divine (Romans 1:4).

5. All mankind (Genesis 6:12; Isaiah 40:6).

6. The human nature, as corrupt, or a state of sin (Ephesians 2:3; Romans 7:5). This denotes the corruption of soul as well as body (Romans 8:6, Colossians 2:18).

7. The unregenerate part in the regenerate man (Romans 7:18).

II. What are works? Whatsoever proceeds from the body of death.

III. How are they manifest?

1. By the light of nature.

2. They cannot be hid (Hebrews 4:13).


1. Take notice of them.

2. Labour against them. They are

Though some have all flesh and no spirit, none have all spirit and no flesh. (Bishop Beveridge.)


I. Its nature. It is a vice opposed to chastity, and may be committed--

1. In the heart (Matthew 5:28); and therefore

2. In the act.

II. its greatness as a sin.

1. It is frequently forbidden.

2. It is destructive to self and others.

3. It is the occasion of many sins.

4. It is a punishment as well as a sin (Proverbs 22:14; Romans 1:24).

5. It consumes a man’s estate (Proverbs 5:10; Proverbs 6:26; Job 31:12).

6. The body also (Proverbs 5:11).

7. It defiles the body (1 Corinthians 6:18).

8. It darkens a man’s judgment and understanding Hosea 4:11).

9. It destroys the whole soul (Proverbs 6:32).

10. It brings irreparable is grace (Proverbs 6:33).

11. Ordinarily it is punished in this life (Numbers 25:6; 1 Corinthians 10:8).

12. Certainly in the life to come (Hebrews 13:4; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

III. Its prevention.

1. Avoid the occasions.

2. Make a covenant with thine eyes (Job 31:1).

3. Watch over thy thoughts (Malachi 2:16),

4. Keep in with God (Proverbs 22:14).

5. Delight in the Word of God (Proverbs 2:10-16).

6. Be much in prayer and meditation (Psalms 119:37). (Bishop Beveridge.)


I. What It Is. When two single persons come together out of the state of matrimony (Deuteronomy 22:28).

II. Its Sinfulness.

1. Contrary to God’s command (1 Corinthians 6:18; Ephesians 5:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:3).

2. Provokes God’s anger (Colossians 3:5-6; Jeremiah 5:7; Hosea 4:14).

3. God will judge it (Hebrews 13:4; 1 Corinthians 3:9). (Bishop Beveridge.)


I. Inward.

1. The desire of strange flesh, with a resolution to enjoy it if he could (Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:5).

2. Sinful lusts and affections (James 1:15).

3. Unclean thoughts.

II. Outward. Adultery, fornication, incest or nameless infamies. (Bishop Beveridge.)


Wantonness, whereby the soul is inflamed to the other sins, expressed:

I. In apparel.

1. Excess.

2. Lightness (Proverbs 7:10).

3. Singularity (2 Samuel 13:18).

4. Of a contrary sex,

II. Gestures.

1. Wanton looks, etc. (2 Peter 2:14; Job 31:1).

2. Wanton walking, etc. (Isaiah 3:16).

III. Meat and drink.

1. The quantity (Ezekiel 16:49).

2. The quality (Luke 16:19).

IV. Words.

1. Foolish (Ephesians 5:3-4).

2. Obscene talking (1 Corinthians 15:33). (Bishop Beveridge.)


I. Its nature. The worshipping of anything besides God, so as--

1. To pray to them (Isaiah 44:17),

2. To sacrifice to them (2 Kings 17:35).

3. To build temples and altars to them (Hosea 12:11).

4. Asking counsel of them (Hosea 4:12).

5. Thanking them ( 16:23-24; Daniel 5:4).

II. Those who are guilty of it.

1. Heathens, who worship--

2. Christians.

III. the greatness of the sin.

1. It is frequently forbidden (Exodus 20:3-4).

2. Severely punished (Exodus 22:20 : Deuteronomy 17:3-5).

3. No sin can bring greater dishonour to God (Jeremiah 2:13).

4. It will certainly bring thee to hell (Revelation 21:8; Revelation 22:15).


I. The biblical estimate of it.

1. As a stern and diabolical reality (Leviticus 20:27; Deuteronomy 18:19).

2. As unlawful trafficking with the unseen world (Leviticus 19:31; Isaiah 8:19).

3. As sometimes trickery and imposture (Isaiah 8:19).

4. As filthy defilement (Leviticus 19:31).

5. As deserving death (Leviticus 20:6; Exodus 22:18).

6. As one of the crimes for which the Canaanites were destroyed.

7. As inconsistent with a trust in God (Isaiah 8:19).

8. As frustrated by God (Isaiah 44:25).

9. As a power from which the godly have nothing to fear.

II. Its prevalence.

1. Amongst the heathen. Pythagoras, Plutarch, Pompey, Croesus, Caesar, were all under its spell.

2. The progress of modern civilization has not exterminated it.

3. But whilst it assumes the form of astrology, with its star-gazing; palmistry, with its handwriting; or spiritualism, with its media and trances and dark seances; it is the same abomination reprobated in the Word of God.

Hatred (of God)

I. What is this? (Romans 1:30).

1. God is the chiefest good (Luke 18:19): the essential, original, universal, infinite, satisfying, necessary, and eternal good.

2. Therefore He ought to be loved supremely.

3. The want of this love is accounted as hatred.

II. Who are guilty of it.

1. Those who wish there were no God (Psalms 14:1).

2. “Who hate the knowledge of Him (Psalms 50:17; Job 21:14; Proverbs 8:36).

3. Who hate His ways and ordinances.

4. Who love other things more than God (2 Timothy 3:4).

5. Who love sin.

6. Who break His commandments (Exodus 20:5-6; John 14:15). (Bishop Beveridge.)

Hatred (of man)

I. Its nature: the transgression of the commandment to love our neighbours as ourselves.

II. Its sinfulness.

1. It is contrary to the law.

2. It is the cause of many sins, as--

3. It is the breaking of the whole law (Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:14).

III. Who are guilty of it? All who--

1. Wish their neighbours evil, or not good.

2. Who do not what good they can.

3. Who do not reprove of sin and excite to good (Leviticus 19:17; Hebrews 10:24).

4. Who bear any secret grudge and malice. (Bishop Beveridge.)


I. Its nature. A sin opposed to amity.

1. In opinion (Ephesians 4:13).

2. Affection (Ephesians 4:3).

II. Its sinfulness.

1. It is contrary to God’s law.

2. It springs from--

3. Its effects are sinful.

III. Those guilty of it.

1. Infidels.

2. Such as fall out for trifles.

3. Such as being fallen out refuse to be reconciled. (Bishop Beveridge.)


I. What is it? Twofold.

1. Good (Galatians 4:18).

2. Evil.


1. It proceeds from an evil root.

2. It brings forth sinful fruit.

III. Who are guilty of it.

1. Such as are zealous in a bad cause.

2. In a good cause in a bad manner (Romans 10:2).

3. More for themselves than God.

4. Such as love to see nobody above them. (Bishop Beveridge.)


It is sinful when with--

1. The providence of God.

2. The laws of God.

3. The doctrines of the gospel.

4. The good we see in others.

5. Those who differ from us in religious sentiments.

6. Reproof.

7. Our reprover, wishing him evil.

8. When we use unlawful means to avenge ourselves. (J. Beaumont, M. D.)

I. What is it? A passion raised up in the mind against some present evil that cannot easily be removed.

II. Whether a man may be ever lawfully angry? Yes (Ephesians 4:26).

1. When it proceeds from a lawful cause (Mark 3:5).

2. When it is placed on a lawful object (Exodus 11:8; Exodus 32:19; Leviticus 10:16-17).

3. In a lawful manner (Matthew 8:22).

4. To a lawful end.

III. Who sin in their anger? Such as are angry--

1. Not so much at the offence as the offender.

2. At anything rather because it dishonours them than God.

3. Without a cause (Matthew 5:22).

4. Excessively, though in a good cause (Genesis 49:7).

5. And hateful.

6. And curse (Psalms 106:33).

7. And therefore indisposed to duties.

8. From sinful causes.

9. For a wrong end.

10. And continue long in their auger (Ephesians 4:26).

IV. Motives against it.

1. God forbids it (Ephesians 4:31; Colossians 3:8).

2. It disturbs soul and body.

3. It is not only a sin but a folly (Ecclesiastes 7:9; Proverbs 14:17; Proverbs 14:29).

4. It may prove thy ruin.

5. It may keep thee out of heaven. (Bishop Beveridge.)


I. Lawful.

1. Which should bring the most glory to God’s name.

2. Perform the exactest obedience to His precepts (Philippians 3:10-13).

3. Believe the firmest in His Son.

4. Grow the fastest in His grace (2 Peter 3:18).

5. Make our calling and election surest (2 Peter 1:10).

II. Sinful.

1. When proceeding from anger and malice.

2. About trifles.

3. In opprobrious terms.

4. Ending in hatred and revenge. (Bishop Beveridge.)


I. To oppose lawful governors (Romans 13:1).

II. To consent to and connive at those who do it.

III. To raise tumults in a kingdom, commonwealth, or parish. (Bishop Beveridge.)


There is no heresy in the long list of heresies which have invaded the Church, like the heresy of negativeness, of inaction, of death. The dead man is the great heresiarch. (H. W. Beecher.)


I. In what consists the sinfulness of envy.

1. It is contrary to God’s command (Romans 13:13; 1 Peter 2:1).

2. Repining at God’s providence and goodness.

3. The fruit of pride.

4. The root of confusion and evil (James 3:16).

5. The cause of hatred.

II. Have a care of it.

1. Thou art never the worse for others being better.

2. Envy makes him never the worse, nor thee the better.

3. Thou hast more cause to rejoice than to be troubled at another’s goodness.

4. Thy envying God’s goodness to others may hinder it to thyself. (Bishop Beveridge.)

I. Its nature.

1. Its object is something good, natural, or acquired, even religious excellence.

2. Something in the possession of another which is grudged and desired,

3. Something not altogether unattainable.

II. Its properties.

1. It is common.

2. Odious.

3. Destructive.

III. Its cure.

1. A scriptural estimate of the objects which excite envy. They are not so valuable as they appear to be.

2. A just opinion of ourselves. We do not deserve as much as we imagine.

3. An entire change of heart.


1. Do not needlessly provoke envy.

2. Do not wickedly indulge it.

3. Do net basely fear it.

4. Do not angrily resent it. (G. Brooks.)

Envy is the daughter of pride, the author of revenge and murder, the beginning of sedition and the perpetual tormentor of virtue. (Socrates.)


Life is threefold of the body, mind, and spirit; and murder against each may be deliberate or careless, resulting from action or inaction.

1. Deliberate murder is life taken by malice aforethought.

2. Careless murder, resulting from careless or culpable ignorance; e.g., the builder who neglects the drains; the parent who spreads an infectious disorder through sending his children to school while tainted with it.

3. Inactive murder (James 4:17), e.g., a man who allows another to commit murder, or who neglects to save life physical or moral. (C. A. Goodheart.)

Murder is not mere blood-shedding.

1. Anger without cause is murder.

2. So is oppression of the weak.

3. So is depriving a man of the means of getting his livelihood to gratify revenge.

4. Whosoever hateth his brother in his heart is a murderer. (J. Parker, D. D.)


I. What is it? An immoderate use of any liquor (Ephesians 5:18).

II. Its sinfulness.

1. It transgresses the law (Ephesians 5:18; Romans 13:13).

2. Abuses the creature.

3. Destroys the body (Proverbs 23:29).

4. Disturbs the soul (Hosea 4:11).

5. Spends time.

6. Unfits for employment (Luke 21:34).

7. Entails woe (Isaiah 5:11). (Bishop Beveridge.)

Evil of hatred

If you hate your enemies, you will contract such a vicious habit of mind as by degrees will break out upon those who are your friends, or those who are indifferent to you. (Plutarch.)

All sin is seen by God

In Mr. Ralph Wells’s school the other day, the lesson was about God’s all-seeing eye. On the blackboard, Mr. Wells placed the words, “Thou God seest me.” He then held up a vase of water, in which a gold-fish was swimming about. “Now, children,” said Mr. Wells, “see this fish hide. Do you see him now?” “Yes, sir,” the children shouted. “Do you see him now?” “Yes, sir.” “Now do you see him?” “Yes, sir: yes, sir,” they all said. “Can’t he hide from you? No, sir.” “Why?” “Because we see right through the glass.” “So,” said Mr. Wells, “God sees right through our hearts. We cannot hide from Him.” (Picture Paper.)

Fleshly sins

The list of fleshly sins here given is not an exhaustive one; merely samples. Seventeen distinct sins are specified, which may be roughly grouped in four classes.

1. Sensuality--viz., “adultery, fornication, uncleanness, wantonness.”

2. Idolatry, or unlawful dealing in things spiritual; consisting of “idolatry,” or the open recognition of false gods, and “sorcery or witchcraft,” the secret tampering with the powers of evil.

3. Malice, or violation of the principle of brotherly love; such as “hatreds, strife, rivalry, outbursts of wrath, cabals, dissensions, heretical factions, envyings, murders.”

4. Intemperance--viz., “drunkenness and riotous revelry.” These vices are probably named by St. Paul as being those to which the Galatians had been specially addicted, and to which they might now be tempted. From early habit a Gentile Church would be exposed to sins of the first two classes, sensuality and idolatry. Sins of the third class, consisting of breaches of brotherly love, would be a probable consequence of their religious dissensions. Vices of the fourth class, when once established, are not easily shaken off, and, as we know from the example of the Corinthian Church, may even find their way into the holiest services of the Christian religion. But we must not confine this catalogue of sins to the Galatians, as though it had no application to ourselves (1 Corinthians 10:11-12). (Emilius Bayley, B. D.)

The old life

As St. Paul looks back at that bad life out of which he had snatched the souls of his Gentile converts, it is its bitter brutality that he most vividly remembers and recalls. It was a jarring life, in which there was no tenderness, no courtesy, no kindliness, no peace. It was full of collisions, of frictions, of wounds, of sores. It was a loud and violent life, in which men fought, and hit, and swore. As he runs over his list of old habits once familiar to them, his picture is as of some back alley in our crowded towns, in which all is shrill, rough, boisterous, with women screaming, with children shrieking, a nest of noises, a swarm of jangling cries. This is what they have left behind, this which had made life one long quarrel, pitiless and brutal. They had left it, mastered and enthralled by the sweet vision of Him, the Man of peace, and meekness, and lowliness, who had been led, quiet and patient, as a lamb to the slaughter, and, as a sheep before its shearers, had never opened His mouth; who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; and when He was threatened, threatened not; One who never gave back railing for railing, but only blessing. “You all remember it”, he keeps crying to them, “those old days, so merciless, so angry, so cruel; how you grated on one another, how you rasped one another, how you bit and devoured one another like snarling dogs.” It had been one long quarrel, a life of wrath, “full of bitterness, clamour, evil speaking”; they knew it all but too well what he meant, for “the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these--hatred,” etc. “Works of the flesh,” he calls them His keen eye sweeps over the whole range of this loud quarrelling; to him, it is no senseless storm that rages on without rhyme or reason. Nay! it has, all of it, a story and a cause; it is the witness, on the surface of life, to inner disorder. These rough oaths, these venomous taunts, this bitter tumult--these are the natural issues of the root from which they spring. They are “works”--normal, and anticipated, and legitimate deeds, which appear in obedience to a law of rational production. They are “fruits”--results that grow out of certain creative activities, as accurately and inevitably as grapes from vines and figs from fig-trees. And what is this root which so legitimately flowers into these uncomfortable blossoms? “The flesh,” St. Paul names it; the flesh is as much the seat and home of this passionate violence as it is of those other passions and appetites with which we commonly identify it. This petulance, this savagery, this hail of malice, this outcry of rage, this havoc of revenge, this recklessness of cruelty--all this finds its principle, its origin, its motive-cause in that same activity of the flesh. Set the law of the flesh in action, and you must have quarrels. Out of the flesh they fly, these oaths and screams, just as sparks out of a smitten flint. It would be a miracle if men who lived after the methods of the flesh failed to envy and to hate one another. (Canon Scott Holland.)

St. Paul’s conception of “the flesh”

Try to enter into the solid and broad meaning which St. Paul attaches to this, his favourite term for the root-principle of human sin--“the flesh.” Obviously, it is much more to him than the mere matter of animal passions. It expresses to him the typical nature, the essential form, of all that can be set in antithesis to spirit. It includes the pride and the falsity of intellect. It embraces the disorder and stubbornness of the will. What, then, is this “flesh?” How can we describe and define it?… “The flesh” represents all that a man is, when he is his own aim, his own end. His power of self-observation, that Divine gift, in possessing which he is the image of his God, has about its use this terrible risk--that he may cease to observe himself as he is in God, as he is in God’s ordered world, set to fulfil an office in combination with his fellows, the member of a vast body, pledged to a peculiar or disciplined service; he may forget all this, and only observe himself, himself just as he stands, with his own private appetites, likes, gifts, feelings. And, so observing, he may separate himself off from all else, hold himself up before his own eyes, and fasten upon himself all his interest, all his thought, and his imagination, and his pains; and may spend his every effort in scheming how best to serve, in richness of pleasurable experience, this self, who has become his idol, and before which he bows himself to minister as to a god. This he may do; and that which a man has then in front of him as his aim or end whether it be low and gross, or whether it be delicate and intellectual--that is “the flesh.” And the life that he lives in obeying its behest, that is “the life after the flesh”; that is “minding the things of the flesh”; that is “walking after the flesh.” And the end of that walk is Death. (Canon Scott Holland.)

Result of walking after the flesh

We can easily understand why life in the flesh is a life of jars and quarrels, as much as a life of passion and lust. The man who walks after the flesh is absorbed in self-interests. He has dropped his eyes from their outward gaze at that busy and social world which encompasses him. That world is calling to him with all its voices, but he hears them no longer; it is appealing to him to act, to hope, to aspire, to give, but he pays no heed to its invocations. He has forgotten its wants and its movements; he is dead to its touch and to its cry. His brothers look to him for help, but they have ceased to interest him: his sisters turn to him for tenderness, but he is chill as a blind stone. All this crowded scene of our human story has lost for him its charm, its colour, its warmth, its neighbourly friendliness. He has turned his eyes within; he has bent all his gaze in upon himself; it is his own feelings that alone have an interest to him, his own needs that alone entice. He is busy night and day in considering himself; he is picturing his own success; he is planning his own pleasures; he is brooding over his own possibilities; he is filled with his own imaginations. Round and round himself he is always weaving the ever-thickening web of his own fancies, and his own schemes; and fainter and more distant grows the sound of outward things. He walks abroad, brimming with self-interests; and he is bent on things fulfilling themselves according to his fostered expectations; and so, walking, he must of necessity jar at once against a world that he has not taken the pains to study, or understand, or revere. He clashes against it, as against a wall; he is pushed and squeezed by the crowd of bustling men, who have no time to give to his breedings, and are at variance with his designs, and upset his favourite plans, and traverse his ambitions. He is disappointed, as he must be; for this earth demands of us a social temper,.and he is hopelessly and helplessly individual; it asks us to give, and he is proposing only to take. He is wholly out of tune with a world that exists only through self-sacrifice, and is bonded together by the grace of humility; he must be repudiated by it, he must be disregarded, he is bound to be checked at every turn, and he gets cross, angry, bitter. The world ignores him, laughs at him, brushes him aside, bowls him over. And the man, so treated, grows more and more wounded, hurt, indignant. Perhaps he rails and storms at the world that he finds so hard, at the men whom he thinks so unsympathetic and so cruel. Perhaps he retreats into sulky silence, and shuts himself up in clouds of vaporous passion, and fumes out his angry soul in secret breedings, and hugs himself the closer, and vents his grudge against life in spite, and scorn, and uncomfortable depression. (Canon Scott Holland.)

Remedy for selfishness

Self-pre-occupation, self-breedings, self.interest, self-love--these are the reasons why you go jarring against your fellows. Turn your eyes off yourself; forget your own pet schemes, the hopes you are always nursing to yourself, the self-importance that you hug. Forget them, throw them aside, push through them. Look up, and out! There is a larger world outside you, brimming over with far other hopes than yours, illumined by a vaster sun, travelling to some far historic goal. Look up, and out upon it! It has its interests, its purposes, its ends, which it is your glad privilege to learn, and, by learning, to obey and follow. Give it your heart, and it will show you its own. Take its road, and it will, then, take yours. Look up, and out! There are men, your brothers, and women, your sisters; they have needs that you can aid. Listen for their confidences; keep your heart wide open to their calls, and your hands alert for their service. Learn to give, and not to take; to drown your own hungry wants in the happiness of lending yourself to fulfil the interests of those nearest or dearest. Break through your own moody musings, and run out abroad, from these closed and darkened chambers of self-consideration--out into the wide and teeming earth, where not your scheme, but God’s great hope, is working out its world-wide triumph. Look up and out, from this narrow, cabined self of yours, and you will jar no longer, you will fret no more, you will provoke no more, you will quarrel no more; but you will, to your own glad surprise, find the secret of “the meekness and the gentleness of Jesus”; and “the peace of God which passeth all understanding” will drop down like dew upon your happy-hearted days; and the fruits of the Spirit will all bud and blossom from out of your life--“love, joy, peace, gentleness, meekness, goodness, long-suffering, faith, temperance.” (Canon Scott Holland.)

The spirit above nature

I. Natural desires are never to rule, always to be ruled.

II. By the help of the Spirit of God they are kept in subjections.

III. Unrestrained, they produce all kinds of wickedness.

IV. Present goodness and happiness are the fruit of the Spirit of God.

V. Self-denial and suffering are requisite for the highest good.

VI. By faith in Christ men follow Him and become like Him. (J. H. Godwin.)

Drunkenness, revellings

The apostle is not speaking merely of the habit and custom of drinking; therefore it is a false excuse if any one thinks that a debauch is no sin if one does not make a business of it. The devil invented this excuse. When any one so overfills himself that he is unfit for prayer and the business of his calling, that is drunkenness. What, then, are we to think of the respectable world with its sinful and damnable Christian drinking bouts? and what, too, of this continual drinking of healths, but as of a temptation to swill down liquor? (Starke.)

The list of vices

These works of the flesh have often been divided into four classes. Any classification or system, however, is scarcely to be expected; but each term of the catalogue may have been suggested by some law of association, especially as some of the terms are similarly arranged in other places. In the first class are sensual sins--fornication, impurity, wantonness; in the second class are sins of superstition--idolatry and sorcery; in the third class, sins of malice and social disorder--hatred, strife, jealousy, wraths, caballing, divisions, heresies, envying, murders; and in the fourth class-are sins of personal excess--drunkenness and revellings. In the first class, the first term, which has a distinct meaning, may have suggested the other and allied vices--miscellaneous and grosser aspects of forbidden indulgence. The two terms of the second class are somewhat similar--the first more precise in meaning, and the second more comprehensive--all occult dealings with the powers of evil. In the third class there is a climatic enumeration--hatreds ripening into strife; jealousy venting itself in passionate outbursts; cabals yet darker and more selfish; divisions, the result of deepening hostility; envyings quite fiendish in nature; and murders--the extreme result, and no uncommon thing in such countries, to obtain an end and consummate an intrigue by the removal of a rival. In the fourth class are first the simple term drunkenness, and the more inclusive term after it, referring either to scenes of dissipation so gay and wanton, or to orgies so gross and sensual, that they may not be described. (John Eadie, D. D.)

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Galatians 5:19". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousies, wraths, factions, divisions, parties, envyings, drunkenness, revellings, and such like; of which I forewarn you even as I did forewarn you, that they who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

This is another of Paul's lists of evil works, similar but longer than the one in 1 Corinthians 6:9,10, and also resembling those given in Rom. 1:27-32,2 Timothy 3:1-8. Extensive comments on various items in this list have already been made in my commentary on Romans and my commentary on 1,2Corinthians in this series.

There are fifteen evils listed here by Paul, and Ramsay identified them all as characteristic of "the kinds of influence likely to affect the South Galatians recently converted from paganism."[16] Any thoughtful person could today make up his own list of the sins, perversions and gross wickedness characteristic of the current culture.

Sorcery ... has been cited by some as proof that Paul believed in the reality of witchcraft; and, in the sense of believing that it was a gross work of the devil being practiced in the culture of those times, of course he did believe. But from this, it is not inferred that Paul believed that so-called witches or sorcerers could actually do the things they claimed and pretended to do. This writer believes in witchcraft in exactly the same way, as being a work of the devil advocated and practiced in the city of Houston at the present time, and being just as sinful now as it was in the days of the apostles; however, it is also believed that the claims and devices of such practitioners are fraudulent, untruthful, deceitful and powerless to do anything either good or evil, except in the sense of causing evil in the people who resort to such things.


[16] William M. Ramsay, A Historical Commentary on St. Paul's Epistles to the Galatians (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1965), p. 447.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
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Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Galatians 5:19". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Now the works of the flesh are manifest,.... By "flesh" is meant corrupt nature, as before, and by the works of it, not only external acts of sin, but inward lusts; for such are here mentioned among its works, as "hatred", "wrath", "envyings", &c. and both external and internal acts are so called, because they spring from the flesh, or corrupt nature, and are what that urges and solicits to, and are wrought thereby, and are what denominate and show men to be carnal: these are said to be "manifest"; not that they are all, and always publicly done, and are open to the sight of men; for they are works of darkness, and often done in secret, though they are always manifest to God the searcher of hearts, and will be brought to light in the day of judgment; but they are known to be sins in some measure by the light of nature, and especially by the law of God; and a clear case it is, that they are contrary to the Spirit, both to the Spirit of God, and to the principle of grace he forms in the heart; and that such who live in the commission of them are not led by him, nor are under the influence of his grace:

which are these; though all are not mentioned, only some of the chief, by which judgment may be made of the rest:

adultery; this is left out in the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Ethiopic versions, and in the Alexandrian copy; it is a defilement of the marriage bed, and is the sin of uncleanness committed by two persons, one of which at least is in a married state, is condemned by the law of God and light of nature:

fornication; which though by many of the Gentiles was reckoned no sin, or a very small one, stands here among the works of the flesh, that are manifest and to be avoided; it is the sin of uncleanness committed by persons in a single state;

uncleanness, it is a general name for all unchastity, in thought, word, or action; and may here design more especially all unnatural lusts, as

sodomy, self-pollution, &c.

lasciviousness; or wantonness, all lustful dalliance, everything that leads on to acts of uncleanness, or attends them, as impure words, filthy gestures, and the like.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:19". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

16 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are [these]; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

(16) He sets out that particularly of which he spoke generally, reckoning up some principal effects of the flesh, and opposing them to the fruits of the Spirit, that no man may pretend ignorance.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Galatians 5:19". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". 1599-1645.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Manifest (πανεραphanera). Opposed to “hidden” (κρυπταkrupta). Ancient writers were fond of lists of vices and virtues. Cf. Stalker‘s sermons on The Seven Cardinal Virtues and The Seven Deadly Sins. There are more than seven in this deadly list in Galatians 5:19-21. He makes the two lists in explanation of the conflict in Galatians 5:17 to emphasize the command in Galatians 5:13. There are four groups in Paul‘s list of manifest vices:

(1)Sensual sins like fornication (πορνειαporneia prostitution, harlotry), uncleanness (ακαταρσιαakatharsia moral impurity), lasciviousness (ασελγειαaselgeia wantonness), sexual vice of all kinds prevailed in heathenism.

(2)Idolatry (ειδωλατρειαeidōlatreia worship of idols) and witchcraft (παρμακειαpharmakeia from παρμακονpharmakon a drug, the ministering of drugs), but the sorcerers monopolized the word for a while in their magical arts and used it in connection with idolatry. In N.T. only here and Revelation 18:23. See note on Acts 19:19 περιεργαperierga curious arts.

(3)Personal relations expressed by eight words, all old words, sins of the spirit, like enmities (εχτραιexthrai personal animosities), strife (εριςeris rivalry, discord), jealousies (ζηλοςzēlos or ζηλοιzēloi MSS. vary, our very word), wraths (τυμοιthumoi stirring emotions, then explosions), factions (εριτειαιeritheiai from εριτοςerithos day labourer for hire, worker in wool, party spirit), divisions (διχοστασιαιdichostasiai splits in two, διχαdicha and στασιςstasis), heresies (αιρεσειςhaireseis the very word, but really choosings from αιρεομαιhaireomai preferences), envyings (πτονοιphthonoi feelings of ill-will). Surely a lively list.

(4)Drunkenness (μεταιmethai old word and plural, drunken excesses, in N.T. only here and Luke 21:34; Romans 13:13), revellings (κωμοιkōmoi old word also for drinking parties like those in honour of Bacchus, in N.T. only here and Romans 13:13; 1 Peter 4:3).

And such like (και τα ομοια τουτοιςkai ta homoia toutois). And the things like these (associative instrumental τουτοιςtoutois after ομοιαhomoia like). It is not meant to be exhaustive, but it is representative.

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
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Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Galatians 5:19". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies


You have a clearly defined standard by which to decide whether you are led by the Spirit or by the flesh. Each exhibits its peculiar works or fruits.

Adultery ( μοιχεία )

To be dropped from the text.

Uncleanness ( ἀκαθαρσία )

See on 1 Thessalonians 2:3.

Lasciviousness ( ἀσελγεια )

See on Mark 7:22.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Galatians 5:19". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

Now the works of the flesh — By which that inward principle is discovered.

Are manifest — Plain and undeniable. Works are mentioned in the plural because they are distinct from, and often inconsistent with, each other. But "the fruit of the Spirit" is mentioned in the singular, Galatians 5:22, as being all consistent and connected together.

Which are these — He enumerates those "works of the flesh" to which the Galatians were most inclined; and those parts of "the fruit of the Spirit" of which they stood in the greatest need.

Lasciviousness — The Greek word means anything inward or outward that is contrary to chastity, and yet short of actual uncleanness.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:19". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

Дела плоти известны. Поелику ранее апостол вкратце показал христианам, к чему они должны стремиться, чтобы покоряться Духу и противиться плоти, теперь он рисует нам картину как плоти, так и духа. Если люди познали бы самих себя, они не нуждались бы в подобных объяснениях, поелику сами они не что иное, как плоть. Однако по причине врожденного лицемерия мы не замечаем свою порочность, покуда дерево это не проявится в своих плодах. Итак, апостол теперь учит нас, с какими пороками предстоит нам сражаться, чтобы не жить по плоти. Он не перечисляет все пороки, о чем и сам в конце говорит. Однако из перечисленного им легко можно вывести и все остальное. «Прелюбодеяние» и «блуд» апостол помещает на первом месте, затем упоминает «нечистоту», охватывающую собой все постыдное. Ибо тех, кто ведет себя распутно и вызывающе, греки называют ασελγεια. Эти четыре порока обозначаются одним именем – бесстыдство. К этому апостол присовокупляет «идолослужение», понимаемое здесь как грубое суеверие, видимое для людей.

Следующие затем семь видов греха сродни друг другу. К этим семи видам добавляются затем еще два. «Гнев» и «вражда» различаются главным образом в том, что гнев скоротечен, а вражда долговечна. «Ревность» и «зависть» являются причинами ненависти. Далее, между ревностью и завистью Аристотель во второй книгеРиторики проводит следующее различение: ревнует тот, кто страдает от превосходства другого человека. И не потому, что ему неприятны его доблесть и величие, а потому, что сам желает быть выше. Завидует же не тот, кто сам желает превознестись, а тот, кто разжигается от чужого превосходства. Поэтому Аристотель учит, что зависть принадлежит низким и отверженным людям, а возвышенным и героическим он приписывает ревность. Павел же и то, и другое объявляет болезнью плоти. Из гнева и ненависти рождаются распри, войны, восстания.

Наконец, апостол доходит до человекоубийства и волшебства. Под «бесчинствами» Павел означает беспорядочную жизнь, а также неумеренность в обжорстве. Следует отметить, что ереси апостол помещает среди других дел плоти. Отсюда мы заключаем, что слово «плоть» понимается здесь широко, а не только, как думают софисты, в качестве телесной чувственности. Ибо что еще рождает ересь, кроме самомнения, относящегося прежде всего к уму, а не к грубой чувственности? Апостол называет такие дела явными, дабы кто, скрывая их, не подумал, что в чем-то преуспевает. Ибо чем поможет отрицание господства в нас плоти, если это дерево будет продолжать приносить плоды?




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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:19". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". 1840-57.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary


‘The works of the flesh … the fruit of the Spirit.’

Galatians 5:19; Galatians 5:22

What a contrast there is presented to us in these few lines! The works of the flesh against the fruit of the Spirit! From the one the higher nature of man turns in utter abhorrence, while the other commends itself to God and man.

I. Present-day sins.—I think we must be arrested by the solemn and awful fact that some of the sins of which the Apostle speaks are with us to-day. We must admit that there is amongst us much idolatry, many factions and divisions, hatred, heresies, and envyings. Now that is a consideration of the gravest importance. Why is it the Church in the course of its two thousand years of existence has not done more, for although we rejoice over the triumphs of the Gospel, as we look round there must be a note of sorrow. Look at the darkness of Africa! Look at the teeming millions of Asia still in the grip of heathenism! Nay, do not look so far. Look at Christendom itself, and one must admit that there is even in the Church of Christ much that makes the brain reel and the heart turn sick. How is this? To answer this aright we must remember that Christ never originated a party; He was not a Master of a system; yet He set in motion a force that has stood for two thousand years through a storm of persecution, and through all the great advancements and changes of passing ages, and still to-day is the greatest moral force of the world. What was the secret of it all? His life was His theology; He came bringing a higher conception of manhood and the Godhead; a new reverence of God—the God of Love.

II. Christianity in the world.—If this is truly the secret of the power of Christ, so must it be the power of Christianity in the world to-day. It is not in the customs of the Church; the power of the Church is in the lives of the men and women who are living as Christ did. The Church is the casket, the men and women are the jewels; the Church is the body, the individual lives of the members of the Church are the soul. That is the thing we need to be reminded of. We are overburdened with the idea of the desirability of great organisations, but it is the life that counts; and as the life of the Christian is the power of the Church, so the lives of men and women should be the ultimate desire of the Church. Christianity is not the knowledge of Church history, but a true development of the joy and peace of the Christian spirit.

—Rev. J. C. Banham.



The Apostle had his Master’s authority, not only for this teaching, but for the figurative language in which it is conveyed. ‘By their fruits,’ Christ had said, ‘shall ye know them.’

I. This fruit contrasts with the produce of the sinful nature.—The Apostle lays stress upon ‘the flesh,’ by which he evidently intends the corrupt, sinful nature of men. The flesh and the Spirit are contrary; so are the works of the flesh to the fruits of the Spirit. The catalogue of sins here introduced must have appeared most just to the observation of men lately delivered in some cases from the debasement of heathenism. The contrast is one as real, if not so striking, in our own days.

II. This fruit can only be accounted for by the new life and the new influences of the Spirit.—For the Spirit of God is the Spirit of Life and the Spirit of Holiness. It is a supernatural growth which yields these unaccustomed fruits. The sunshine ripens, the showers swell the fruit which God destines for His own glory. It has the flavour and the fragrance of heaven.

III. This fruit is sweet, serviceable, and acceptable, not only to God, but also to man.—The practical virtues here described are such as relate to a man’s intercourse with his fellow-men, and such as contribute to his own true development and well-being. Its abundance will enrich and bless this earth, and will promote the glory of the Divine Husbandman. ‘Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit.’

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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Galatians 5:19". Church Pulpit Commentary. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

Ver. 19. Now the works of the flesh] Sinners are sore labourers; wicked men great workmen. Would they take but half that pains for heaven that they do for hell, they could not, likely, miss of it. The Hebrew and Greek words for sin import labour (Gnamal, πονηρια).

Are manifest] φανερα, they lie above ground, and are condemned by the light of nature. Wicked men also hang out their sins to the sight of the sun, Isaiah 3:9, that they must needs be manifest even to a natural conscience; not so the fruits of the Spirit.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:19". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Galatians 5:19. Now the works of the flesh are manifest; If flesh be taken for the irregularities of the appetite,—for that natural corruption which infects the faculties of every man by nature; it extends to the mind, as well as to the appetites of the body; and there will be no difficulty in ascribing each of the particular crimes here enumerated to the flesh, as they all proceed from that corruption, by means of which even the mind and conscience is defiled. Titus 1:15.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Galatians 5:19". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

Our apostle having in the foregoing verses, exhorted the Galatians to walk in the Spirit, to be led and guided by the Spirit, and by no means to obey or fulfil the lusts of the flesh; he comes in these and the following verses, to discover how they might, with certainty and assurance, know whether they were spiritual or carnal, whether the Spirit or the flesh had a prevalency in them, or dominion over them.

Accordingly, he describes particularly the flesh and the Spirit, by their various and different effects, and gives us a catalogue of the one and the other; he reckons up no fewer than seventeen works of the flesh, all which, yea, any of which, continued in, and unrepented of, are damnable; after this, he enumerates nine special and gracious fruits of the Spirit, which qualify us for, and entitle us to the kingdom of heaven; The works of the flesh are manifest, &c.

Here observe, 1. That sin is called a work, thereby intimating to us the labour and toil, the drudgery and pains, which sinners meet with in a sinful course: The ways of sin are very toilsome, although in their issue very unfruitful; sin is no pleasurable service, but a laborious servitude.

Observe, 2. The apostle calls sin by the name of works, in the plural number, the works of the flesh; intimating, that sin never goes single, but has a dangerous train and retinue: He that yields himself a servant to one sin, shall soon find himself a slave to many.

Observe, 3. That sin is called a work of the flesh, because most sins are committed by the flesh; the body is the soul's instrument, as well in the work of sin, as in the service of Christ; and the flesh is the object, about which these works are conversant, as well as the organ and instrument by which they are committed.

Observe, 4. These works of the flesh are here said to be manifest: But how so? First, they are most of them manifestly condemned by the light of nature: a natural conscience in men startles at them at first, till by custom and frequent practice they become habitual and natural to them. Secondly, they are all of them manifest by the light of scripture; the word of God, which is in all our hands, condemns all these works of the flesh to the pit of hell.

Observe, 5. The particular enumeration of the works of the flesh, here made by the apostle;

adultery, or the defiling our neighbour's bed;

fornication, or the unlawful mixture of single persons one with another;

uncleanness, under which is comprehended all sorts of filthiness, and filthy lusts, whether natural or unnatural;

lasciviousness, by which is meant all wanton behaviour, either in speech or action, tending to excite filthy desires, either in themselves or others;

idolatry, whereby God is represented to corporeal eyes by pictures and images, and so brought down to human senses; properly, therefore, is idolatry, as such, called here a work of the flesh.

Again, witchcraft, a devilish art, whereby some men and women, having made a compact with the devil, either expressly or implicitly, are enabled, with God's permission, and by the assistance of Satan, to produce effects beyond the ordinary course and order of nature, and these for the most part rather mischievous to others, than beneficial to themselves;

hatred, or a secret enmity in our hearts against our neighbour, either for real or apprehended injuries;

variance, or outward contention by words or action, arising from the forementioned enmity in the heart;

emulations, or an inward grief and displeasure at some good in others, or done by others, which eclipses and overshadows us;

wrath, or violent anger, and immoderate passion, depriving a man for the time of his reason, and transforming him into a beast;

strife, or a litigious spirit, a continual proneness to quarrelling and contending;

seditions, or rending of societies into factions, and divinding communities into parties; which dividing work, when it falls out in the state, is called sedition; when in the church, by the name of schism;

heresies, or dangerous errors in the fundamental points of religion; not arising purely from mistakes of judgment, but from the espousing of false doctrines out of disgust or pride, or from worldly principles, to avoid persecution or trouble in the flesh; these may well be accounted carnal lusts, and called works of the flesh, although they be mental errors, and their first seat is in the understanding and judgment;

envyings, a pestilent lust, which makes another's good our grief; our eyes smart at the sight of what another enjoys, though we have never the less, because another has more;

murders, that is, the executing of private revenge, by shedding of blood, and taking away our neighbour's life unjustly;

drunkenness, revellings, the one is intemperance in drinking, the other an excess in eating; all sinful abuse of the creatures of God, which he has given, not barely for necessity, but delight, is censured here as a work of the flesh.

Observe, 6. The solemn warning which the apostle gives the Galatians to watch against all these sins, and not indulge or allow themselves in the wilful commission of any one of them; I tell you, says he, that such shall not inherit the kingdom of God, but be eternally banished from him.

Now, from the whole, learn, 1. That the ministers of the gospel must not satisfy themselves barely to reprove and condemn sin in general, but must descend to particulars; though invectives against sin, at large, are of good use to expose the deformity of sin, yet, in order to the awakening of particular sinners, we must take into our consideration their particular sins, and endeavour to convince them of them, and turn them from them; so doth our apostle here, in the foregoing catalogue of vices.

Learn, 2. That the ministers of Christ must acquaint their people, not only with the danger of allowing themselves in the grosser acts of sin, as adultery, fornication, drunkenness, and revellings, and such like, but also with the danger of indulging themselves in secret sins, heart sins, sins which the eye of the world can never accuse them of, but God will condemn them for; such are hatred, emulation, envy, &c. not only the outward act of sin, but the inward desire, is dangerous and damning. It is easy for a man to murder his neighbour, in the account of God, by a secret wish, and a passionate desire; he that hateth his brother is a murderer, and he that looks upon a woman unduly, is an adulterer, in the sight of God.

Learn, 3. That the ministers of Christ can never often enough warn sinners of the danger of sin, and continuance in it; we must do it over and over again; every sabbath, and every sermon, must ring a peal in the sinner's ears, of the fatal danger of a resolute impiety: Thus here, I tell you now, as I told you in time past, that they which do such things, shall not inherit, &c.

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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Galatians 5:19". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. 1700-1703.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

19.] φανερά (emphatic), plain to all, not needing, like the more hidden fruits of the Spirit, to be educed and specified: and therefore more clearly amenable to law, which takes cognizance of τὰ φανερά.

ἅτινά ἐστιν] almost = ‘for example:’ ‘qualia sunt:’ see on ch. Galatians 4:24.

ἀκαθ., impurity in general.

ἀσέλγ., ἑτοιμότης πρὸς πᾶσαν ἡδονήν, Etym. Mag. It does not seem to include necessarily the idea of lasciviousness: “Demosthenes, making mention of the blow which Meidias had given him, characterizes it as in keeping with the well-known ἀσέλγεια of the man (Meid. 514). Elsewhere he joins δεσποτικῶς and ἀσελγῶς and προπετῶς.” Trench, New Test. Synonyms, p. 64. The best word for it seems to be wantonness, ‘protervitas.’

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Galatians 5:19". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. 1863-1878.

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

Galatians 5:19. φανερὰ δὲ κ. τ. λ.] Manifest, however (now to explain myself more precisely as to this οὐκ ἐστὲ ὑπὸ νόμον), open to the eyes of all, evidently recognisable as such by every one, are the works of the flesh, that is, those concrete actual phenomena which are produced when the flesh, the sinful nature of man (and not the Holy Spirit), is the active principle. The δέ (in opposition to Hofmann’s objection) is the δέ explicativum, frequently used by Greek authors and in the N.T. (Winer, p. 421 [E. T. 553]; Kühner, ad Xen. Mem. ii. 1. 1). That one who is led by the Spirit will abstain from the ἔργα which follow, is obvious of itself; but Paul does not state this, and therefore does not by δέ make the transition to it, as Hofmann thinks, who gratuitously defines the sense of φανερά as: “well known to the Christian without law.” On φανερός, lying open to cognition, manifestus, see van Hengel, ad Rom. I. p. 111. The list which follows of the ἔργα τῆς σαρκός contains four approximate divisions: (1) lust: πορνεία, ἀκαθαρσ., ἀσέλγ.; (2) idolatry: εἰδωλολατρ., φαρμακ.; (3) enmity: ἔχθραιφόνοι; (4) intemperance: μέθαι, κῶμοι.

ἀκαθαρσία] lustful impurity (lewdness) generally, after the special πορνεία. Comp. Romans 1:24; 2 Corinthians 12:21.

ἀσέλγεια] lustful immodesty and wantonness. See on Romans 13:13. Comp. 2 Corinthians 12:21; Ephesians 4:19; 1 Peter 4:3; 2 Peter 2:7.

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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Galatians 5:19". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. 1832.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Galatians 5:19. φανερὰ δὲ now manifest) The flesh concealed betrays itself by its own works, so that its discovery is easy.— τὰ ἔργα, the works) unfruitful [as opposed to “the fruit of the Spirit,” Galatians 5:22]. The works, in the plural, because they are divided and are often at variance with one another, and even severally [taken each one by itself] betray the flesh. But the fruit, being good, Galatians 5:22, is in the singular, because it is united and harmonious. Comp. Ephesians 5:11; Ephesians 5:9.— ἅτινα, which) He enumerates those works of the flesh, to which the Galatians were most prone; on the other hand, also those parts of the fruit of the Spirit, which needed to be most recommended to them; comp. Galatians 5:15. He maintains this order, that he may enumerate the sins committed with our neighbour, those against God, those against our neighbour, and those in regard to ourselves; and to this order the enumeration of the fruit of the Spirit corresponds.— ἀκαθαρσία, ἀσέλγεια, uncleanness, lasciviousness) 2 Corinthians 12:21, note.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Galatians 5:19". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations
on the Holy Bible

The works of the flesh; the products of the natural inclinations and propensions in the heart of man.

Are manifest, which are these; he saith, these are manifest, the filthiness of them appears by the light of nature, by the checks of conscience men meet with for them; or else, it is manifest that these actions are not from the Spirit of God, (because of their contrariety to the Divine rule), but are from the corrupt part of man. These (he saith) are adultery, or the defiling of our neighbour’s bed; fornication, which is the uncleanness of single persons each with other; and all other species of uncleanness, or unclean conjunctions: lasciviousness; whatsoever wanton carriage, gestures, or behaviour lead to these acts.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Galatians 5:19". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

известны Плоть проявляет себя ясным и определенным образом.

блуд От переведенного так греч. слова (porneia) происходит слово «порнография». Оно означает любые незаконные сексуальные действия, включая (перечисление не полное) прелюбодеяние, добрачную половую жизнь, гомосексуализм, скотоложство, кровосмешение и проституцию.

непотребство Первоначально это слово означало поведение, преступающее определенные рамки, но впоследствии стало ассоциироваться с излишествами в половой жизни.

(5:19-21) Эти грехи характерны для всякого неискупленного человека, живущего под бессильными заповедями закона, который производит лишь несправедливость, хотя не каждый человек совершает все эти грехи, равно как и не проявляет их в одинаковой степени. Павел затрагивает грехи, хотя и не все, в трех сферах человеческой жизни: в сексе, в религии и в отношениях между людьми. Другие такие перечисления см. в Рим. 1:24-32; 1Кор. 6:9, 10.

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Galatians 5:19". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

The works of the flesh; those to which corrupt human nature prompts, and when not restrained, produces.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Galatians 5:19". "Family Bible New Testament". American Tract Society. 1851.

John Eadie's Commentary on Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians and Philippians

Galatians 5:19. φανερὰ δέ ἐστιν τὰ ἔργα τῆς σαρκός—“Now manifest are the works of the flesh;”- φανερά having the stress upon it, yet not so as to mean that the works of the flesh are so open that one led by the Spirit does not first need the teaching of the law about them-what to do, what to refrain from, in reference to them (Hofmann). Meyer connects this clause with the one before it, and as a closer explanation of “ye are not under the law”-to show what the sinful principle produces when the Holy Spirit does not lead men; and Ellicott more distinctly calls it “the open difference between the works of the flesh against which the law is ordained, and the fruits of the Spirit.” Probably this is too narrow a connection. The flesh is spoken of in the entire short paragraph in its lusting and warrings, in contrast with the Spirit in its wrestlings and leadings. Those who are guided by the Spirit are not as such under the law; but the flesh is under law, under its sentence and dominion: manifest are its works, and the law cannot but condemn them as ἔργα-works-done by the evil and unrenewed nature. It is needless to press a contrast in φανερά with the fruit of the Spirit as being more hidden, and as needing to be educed and specified. The works of the flesh are notorious, and notoriously of a corrupt origin. σάρξ is, very plainly, greatly more than the sensual part of fallen nature, for many of these ἔργα are intellectual or spiritual in nature. See under Ephesians 2:3, and under Galatians 5:16. The apostle proceeds to give a specimen catalogue-

῞ατινά ἐστι—“of which class are”-qualia sunt (Jelf, 816, 5), or less likely, quippe quae (De Wette). They are sins no doubt very common in the Gentile world, and characterized the Galatian people. Thomas Aquinas well says-cum apostolus in diversis locis diversa vitia et diversimode enumerat, non intendit enumerare omnia vitia ordinate et secundum artem, sed illa tantum in quibus abundant et in quibus excedunt illi, ad quos scribit.

The Received Text begins with μοιχεία, on the authority of D, F, K, L, א3, the Claromontane Latin, the Gothic, the Phil., Syriac, and many of the Greek and Latin fathers; while F, G make it plural, with several of the following words, as does Origen. But the preferable reading omits the word, as in A, B, C, א1, 17, Vul., Cop., etc. Probably the insertion was a reminiscence of Matthew 15:19, Mark 7:21.

πορνεία—“fornication.” 2 Corinthians 12:21. Scarcely reckoned a sin in heathen opinion.

᾿ακαθαρσία—“uncleanness,” “impurity,” including unnatural lusts, so common in Greece and the East. See Döllinger's The Gentile and the Jew, vol. 1.377-431; vol. 2.197, 238, 273, etc., Eng. trans.

᾿ασέλγεια—“lasciviousness”-probably from - θέλγω. Mark 7:22; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Ephesians 4:19. Donaldson derives it from a and σαλαγ., foulness. Benfey (Wurzellexicon, sub voce) proposes another derivation: from ἀσ., satiety, and ἀλγ. ἄλγος, die Sucht. Suidas takes it from a, and σέλγη, a Pisidian town of notorious debauchery. It is defined in the Etymologicum Magnum as ἑτοιμότης πρὸς πᾶσαν ἡδονήν. That it did not signify lasciviousness always, is plain from its use by Demosthenes, where it means insolence. The blow which Meidias gave was in character with ἡ ἀσέλγεια-the outrageousness-of the man. Orat. cont. Meid. 514, p. 327, vol. i. Opera, ed. Schaefer. In a similar way, the term wantonness, which had at first a more general signification, has passed in English into the meaning of open sensuality. It is the self-asserting propensity indulged without check or regard to ordinary propriety, especially in libidinous gratification. Tittmann, De Synon. p. 81; Trench, Synon. p. 64; Wetstein in loc.

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Eadie, John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:19". John Eadie's Commentary on Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Galatians 5:19. Though this verse enumerates only evil works of the flesh, it is not thereby suggested that its action is wholly evil; for the flesh has been shown to have its appointed function from God, and to be essential to the human will. The opening puts the following catalogue of crimes and vices in its true light as samples, produced by way of specimen of the evil effects wrought by excessive indulgence of natural appetites without due control, and not an exhaustive list of the works of the flesh, as the rendering which, in our versions, rather suggests. The list begins and ends with sensual vices due to the lower animal nature; it couples idolatry with its habitual ally sorcery: in specifying the various quarrels between man and man it adds two and to the corresponding list in 2 Corinthians 12:20, perhaps owing to the prevalence of religious dissensions in the Galatian churches.— . This term, which in classical Greek expresses insolent contempt for public opinion, denotes in the N.T. shameless outrages on public decency—a fit climax to fornication and uncleanness.



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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Galatians 5:19". The Expositor's Greek Testament. 1897-1910.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

works. Contrast "fruit", Galatians 5:22.

manifest. Greek. phaneros. App-106.

which = such as.

Adultery. The texts omit.

uncleanness. Greek. akatharsia. See Romans 1:24.

lasciviousness. Greek. aselgeia, See Romans 13:13.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Galatians 5:19". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(19) Now the works of the flesh are manifest.—It needs no elaborate disquisition to show what is meant by fulfilling the lust of the flesh. The effects which the flesh produces are plain and obvious enough. The catalogue which follows is not drawn up on any exact scientific principle, but divides itself roughly under four heads: (1) sins of sensuality; (2) sins of superstition; (3) sins of temper; (4) excesses.

It has been said that all our sinfulness may be resolved “into two elementary instincts: the instinct of self-preservation and the reproductive instinct.” The third class of sins—sins of temper—would be referred to the first of the heads; sins of sensuality and excess—the one immediately, the other more remotely—to the second. The sins of superstition mentioned are of a more secondary character, and arise out of intellectual errors.

Adultery.—This word is omitted in the best MSS.

Uncleanness, lasciviousness.—The first of these words signifies any kind of impurity, secret or open; the second flagrant breaches of public decency.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:19". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
the works
13,17; 6:8; Psalms 17:4; John 3:6; Romans 7:5,18,25; 8:3,5,9,13; 1 Corinthians 3:3; 1 Peter 4:2
Ezekiel 22:6-13; Matthew 15:18,19; Mark 7:21-23; Romans 1:21-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9,10; 2 Corinthians 12:20,21; Ephesians 4:17-19; 5:3-6; Colossians 3:5-8; 1 Timothy 1:9,10; Titus 3:3; James 3:14,15; 1 Peter 4:3,4; Revelation 21:8; 22:15
Reciprocal: Genesis 39:9 - how then;  Leviticus 18:20 - GeneralProverbs 2:18 - GeneralProverbs 5:22 - sins;  Proverbs 24:1 - not;  Jeremiah 7:9 - steal;  Jeremiah 23:10 - full;  Ezekiel 18:6 - neither hath defiled;  Ezekiel 22:11 - committed;  Ezekiel 33:9 - if thou;  Malachi 3:5 - the sorcerers;  Luke 6:44 - For of;  John 5:44 - which;  Acts 15:20 - fornication;  Romans 3:10 - none;  Romans 13:13 - chambering;  1 Corinthians 5:1 - fornication;  1 Corinthians 5:11 - fornicator;  Galatians 5:16 - and;  Ephesians 2:3 - fulfilling;  Ephesians 5:5 - this;  Colossians 2:18 - fleshly;  1 Thessalonians 4:3 - that;  1 Thessalonians 4:7 - uncleanness;  1 Timothy 5:24 - GeneralHebrews 6:1 - dead;  Hebrews 12:16 - any fornicator;  Hebrews 13:4 - and the bed;  Revelation 21:27 - there

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Galatians 5:19". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".

Stanley Derickson - Notes on Selected Books

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are [these]; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told [you] in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Okay, those that don"t like lists turn away from your computer for a few moments while we deal with two lists. Hard to believe, but one is a list of don"ts and the other is a list of do's - see, I told you God had lists and that they were often in the do"s and don"ts category.

Adultery: That which we see in nearly every movie, every magazine, every television show and most lives that we interact with on a daily basis. We even see it way too often in the church itself. The church's divorce rate is as bad if not worse than that of the world and many of those divorces are caused by infidelity.

My what an odorous truth for the Christian caught up in such lies. They are listed with those that will not inherit the kingdom. They keep company with lost souls rather than the redeemed. If you are in the throws of adultery open your eyes to your sin and your company. God is not pleased, nor can He be while you walk with the Devil.

Fornication: This is the Greek word "porneia" from which we gain pornography and the meaning is right in that crowd of witnesses. This includes any sexual act that is against the Word of God including homosexuality, lesbianism, relations with animals and sexual relations outside of the bonds of marriage, especially that between people that are relatives or married to others.

There is an added meaning to the word, which relates to the uncleanness one is involved with when they are in activities against God, such as idolatry.

Uncleanness: One of the terms used in the Lexicon is "profligate life" which means "abandon to vice." When used of a consumer it would mean "recklessly extravagant." One that is out of control in lifestyle would be the thought of it and that lifestyle being in the incorrect sexual direction.

Lasciviousness: Wantonness, filthy, and unbridled lust are a few of the terms used in the Lexicon. Given over to the filth of the world would be a good description for this word.

Idolatry: This is the worship of other gods. Wow, look where God puts idolatry, right between several terms describing sexual perversion and witchcraft. I think that rather well defines just how God feels about those that worship other gods.

Witchcraft: This is the sorcery that we would expect, but also relates to drugs and poisoning that goes with witchcraft.

There are those that tell us that witchcraft has changed, that it is for good now, and they even have another name for it. It is now whitewashed as the teachings of Wicken, not that nasty old word witchcraft.

Hatred: There is nothing unclear about this term, it is the hatred one feels toward someone that has deeply offended you or done you great physical or financial harm. It is that emotion that wants to get back at the person and do them great harm.

Variance: Strife, wrangling and contention. Sad to say this also describes pretty well some churches but we need to remember this is a list of the works of the flesh, not the Spirit. Not that believers don"t get involved in things they ought not.

Emulations: This word threw me for a moment, as it is the word for zeal. It is also used of the negative side of an excited mind, that which drives to trouble out of the zealousness of mind. "The fierceness of indignation" is a phrase that is used in the Lexicon. Zealously wrongly acting out with the mind is a good way to view the word.

Wrath: This seems to be a close relative of emulations. It has the idea of angry, fierceness and relates to boiling up quickly. When I cook chicken and noodles, I put the water on the stove and dump in the chicken and turn my attention to making the noodles. I usually keep a close eye on the boiling chicken, because in the blink of an eye it can turn from a slow rolling boil to a smelly mess on the burner.

It is that anger that suddenly strikes out. We often see this in road rage today. A normally calm person that is suddenly transformed into a raving lunatic capable of firing a gun at another person over the simplest of provocations.

Often it is the result of buried anger and rage over something completely unrelated, but that one act by another is all it takes to pop the cork and watch the bottle overflow. The word reminds me of the current fad of dumping a tube of Mentos into a Liter of soft drink and watching the column of foam and liquid shoot high into the air.

Strife: Contention is the meaning of the word. Now, this is the Lexicons line of thought not mine - but it relates to electioneering or if you will campaigning for office. NOW, WE CERTAINLY HAVE THIS WORD IN THE RIGHT LIST DON"T WE! The campaign today is surely strife and trouble, sad to say.

The word is used by Aristotle of "self-serving pursuit of political office by unfair means."

Seditions: Division and dissension. Again, way too close to many churches today.

Heresies: This relates to the taking of a city, to the taking of minds, of false teachings that people follow. HUMMMMMM, we see this in the context of political wrong doing, the taking of minds wrongly.

Envyings: Simply envy - the desire for what is not yours or what you cannot have and it is placed right next to the act of murder, or the taking another"s life - both relate to the desire to take that which is not theirs. I had never seen murder in that light before, but that is just what murder is, the taking of what is not yours.

Murders: This can relate not only to murder but to slaughter.

Drunkenness: Simply drunken or intoxicated. Out of control due to the ingestion of drink.

Revellings: This is the plural of the one before, it is drunken parties.

And such like -- and if I forgot anything throw that in as well, cuz there is plenty more like those.

I really don"t know how Paul ever hopes to fit into the Ecumenical movement with rhetoric like this, indeed he probably wouldn"t be welcome at most evangelical meetings these days; he would be labeled a legalist at the very least. He says after this long list of very gross and negative sins. "Of the which I tell you before, as I have also told [you] in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."

He can"t really mean that can he? Well, it looks like he said it so I suspect that he did mean it in some manner or the other and I would assume that it was on a literal level or none. He reminds them that he has told them this before and he is telling them again - plainly, if someone is involved in these activities they are not going to inherit the kingdom of God. They are of the flesh, they are of the Devil and they are none of God"s

Here we go on the list of the do"s or those things that are supposed to be a part of our lives.

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Derickson, Stanley. "Commentary on Galatians 5:19". "Stanley Derickson - Notes on Selected Books".

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

19.Works of the flesh are manifest—Are made by God obvious to the human conscience; yet St. Paul gives them both to show the shape of the new Christian morality and to impress it upon the newly-converted Galatians. He doubtless selects those transgressions to which the Galatians were most prone. This verse gives that list of vices that specially belong to the sensual nature.

Adultery—The lawless intercourse of the married. Omitted by the best readings.

Fornication—Of the unmarried.

Uncleanness—General impurity, and violations of sexual nature.

Lasciviousness—Wantonness, recklessness of consequences in sensualities.


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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Galatians 5:19". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

The Bible Study New Testament

19. What human nature does. Paul is talking about the evil side of our human nature, not ordinary human desires and needs. Even Christians still have this evil side, as the case of the Galatian Christians show. The Devil tries to use this side of us to seduce us to sin!!! Immoral. Sex acts outside the marriage relationship [fornication]. Filthy. Such things as pornography, that lead to adultery, homosexuality, and immorality in general. Indecent actions. Sinning openly and not caring who knows it! The sort of things that shocks public morals.




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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Galatians 5:19". "The Bible Study New Testament". College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

19.Now the works of the flesh are manifest. To obey the spirit and to oppose the flesh, are two great objects which have been set before Christians, and for the attainment of which they have been urged to make the most strenuous exertions. In accordance with these views, he now draws a picture both of the flesh and of the spirit. If men knew themselves, they would not need this inspired declaration, for they are nothing but flesh; but such is the hypocrisy belonging to our natural state, we never perceive our depravity till the tree has been fully made known by its fruits. (Matthew 7:16; Luke 6:44.)

The apostle therefore now points out to us those sins against which we must fight, in order that we may not live according to the flesh. He does not indeed enumerate them all, and so he himself states at the conclusion of the list; but from those brought forward, the character of the remainder may be easily ascertained. Adultery and fornication are placed first, and next follows uncleanness, which extends to every species of unchastity. Lasciviousness appears to be a subsidiary term, for the Greek word ασέλγεια, which is thus translated, is applied to those who lead wanton and dissolute lives. These four denote sins forbidden by the seventh commandment. The next mentioned isidolatry, which is here employed as a general term for services grossly superstitious and openly practiced.

Seven classes which immediately follow, are closely allied, and another two are afterwards added. Anger and hatred differ chiefly in this, that anger is short, and hatred is lasting. Emulations and envyings are the occasions of hatred; and the following distinction between them is stated by Aristotle, in his second book on Rhetoric: — He who emulates is grieved that another should excel him, not because the virtue or worth of that person, in itself considered, gives him uneasiness, but because he would wish to be superior. The envious man has no desire to excel, but is grieved at the excellence of other men. None, therefore, he tells us, but low and mean persons indulge in envy, while emulation dwells in lofty and heroic minds. Paul declares both to be diseases of the flesh. From anger and hatred arise variance, strife, seditions; and he even traces the consequences so far as to mention murders and witchcraft (90) By revellings, (91) he means a dissolute life, and every kind of intemperance in the gratification of the palate. It deserves notice, that heresies are enumerated among the works of the flesh; for it shows clearly that the word flesh is not confined, as the sophists imagine, to sensuality. What produces heresies but ambition, which deals not with the lower senses, but with the highest faculties of the mind? He says that these works are manifest, so that no man may think that he will gain anything by evading the question; (92) for what avails it to deny that the flesh reigns in us, if the fruit betrays the quality of the tree?

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:19". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". 1840-57.